UEFA’s report is full of insights to last year’s Champions League, however there is one statistic that stands out strongly.
According to its findings, more than half of those goals – 185 to be exact – came from ownership regained in the final third of the opposition.
It’s an eye catching detail that reflects the incidence of pressing the level of this match. The report specifically highlights the”extraordinary intensity” of all Liverpool’s media in their own semi-final second-leg win over Barcelona. However, Jurgen Klopp’s guys were not the only ones up the pitch.
When Liverpool faced Tottenham the closing, was billed as an interview between two of the best exponents of pressing. Curiously, though, Spurs went on to list their number of pressures in any Champions League match all season. By way of contrast, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah accounted for 34 pressures by himself.
What felt like an anomaly in the time – more than double as many pressures had been recorded by Spurs within their semi-final second leg against Ajax – feels like the beginning of a fashion. At a time when pressing that is high is becoming more and more prominent everywhere evidence suggests Spurs are currently moving in the opposite way.
So far this year, the large press only hasn’t been there. Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville described Spurs as”lethargic” throughout their 2-2 draw with Manchester City last month. A week they had been flat from the 1-0 loss. And while they did counter-attack against Arsenal in speed last Sunday, their game that is pressing was oddly absent.
Unai Emery’s side were able to construct from the back unchallenged in the Emirates Stadium, which was particularly surprising given the apparent problems they had been caused by Liverpool’s high press in their previous match. Klopp’s side won possession in the last third 13 occasions. At the Emirates, Spurs managed it twice.
Spurs have only won possession in the final third twice in four games annually, setting them . Their average of 2.3 per match represents a substantial drop-off on their normal numbers. Last year they averaged 4.2 per game, putting them fifth. Back in 2017/18, their average of 4.4 per game put them third.
Opta’s information for sequences that are pressed is much more revealing. Pressed sequences are defined as opposition passing sequences of fewer or 3 moves which finish in 40 meters of their goal. This season, Spurs have forced fewer pressed strings (31) than any other Premier League side, averaging 7.8 per game when compared to 13.2 final season.
It’s a small sample size, clearly, but it’s still out of character for one side whose aggressive pressing was once a hallmark. It is not so long ago that returning Watford director Quique Sanchez Flores was assessing Mauricio Pochettino’s players to”creatures” for its pace and determination with which they hunted possession.
So what’s happened? Then it isn’t working, When it’s a deliberate plan. Spurs have survived away trips to Manchester City and Arsenal this season, shooting five points from their four games, but the lack of urgency has noticed them give a number of chances . Only more shots have been faced by Aston Villa. Norwich have confronted more shots.
It is also obvious that the issues have been a source of annoyance to Pochettino. He has cut a thwarted figure because the Champions League final, whining that his group is the most”unsettled” it has ever been since his arrival at the club and alluding to its effect on the group’s performances – specifically their pressing – after the Arsenal match.
“We want togetherness,” he explained. “The group was not settled and I told me from day among pre-season I was not satisfied. The most important thing is to be on precisely the same page and the players have a crystal clear idea of the way we have to move.”
An effective media demands total commitment it requires team focus and spirit. However, with Christian Eriksen’s mind elsewhere, with Jan Vertonghen strangely dropping his place and also with signings still bedding in, these factors have yet to be there. The cohesion of tottenham has taken a evidence indicates their pressing has also.
Pochettino expects the close of the transfer window coupled using a pause for your break – will allow Spurs to receive their rhythm back. However, a high-pressing strategy asks a striker. Is Harry Kane that striker? Is he still suited to playing a high-pressing strategy?
It’s a conundrum for both Pochettino. There can be no questioning the assaulting participation of Kane. He has scored seven days for golf and country from this season’s coming month . However, in the past couple of years he has endured a string of injuries that were ankle and his game is currently evolving as a outcome.
Kane remains at his most dangerous from the opposition’s penalty box, but he’s equally as likely to be seen as he’s playing on the trunk of the defender, dropping. Instead of running in behind himselfhe prefers to vacate the area for his.
Kane’s evolution has impacted his function, also. This time, he is currently averaging ball recoveries and tried tackles that are fewer than in any of the previous six campaigns together with Spurs. This season, he has just won ownership in the last third two in 360 minutes.
A participant who once headed the media for Pochettino is no more playing the identical intensity, and it is not a coincidence thatthe last time Spurs produced the type of breathless pressing they have become known for beneath Pochettino – because Champions League semi-final second leg against Ajax at May – Kane did not feature whatsoever.
His return to the beginning line-up for its closing was a welcome increase for Spurs, but their intensity suffered as we are told by UEFA analysis.
Perhaps Pochettino remains hoping that Kane will get back to his old intensity levels. There was in how he won possession in the opposition half in the build-up into England’s third goal against Bulgaria on 24, encouragement. Then he made another opening on Tuesday for Raheem Sterling in comparable circumstances against Kosovo.
But the Premier League is an environment. The evolution of kane suggests he knows his characteristics are shifting and Tottenham’s adjusted approach this season indicates Pochettino understands it too. A side whose progress was pushed by approaches must find a new way. For now, it remains a work in progress.
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